In the recently released September/October issue of Composites Manufacturing, our cover story highlighted a beautiful hanging gardens installation at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. The hanging gardens super-structure, designed and fabricated by JTI Companies, is made up of 67 FRP tubes and structural components built to withstand up to 146 mph winds and resist saltwater corrosion.
Jason Brough of JTI caught up with Composites Manufacturing Interviews to talk about what it was like to work on this one-of-a-kind project. Be sure to read the full article, and subscribe to Composites Manufacturing so you never miss a single story!
In the Composites Manufacturing article, you noted that JTI is able to fabricate custom composites and metalwork in the same facility, which helps you create “hard-to-do” projects. How does this ability enable you to create more complicated projects?
When I say “hard-to-do,” I mean something that’s probably never been done before, a one-off, or a design that’s in a conceptual stage. Many times these projects are where an architect or owner wants to make a statement. It’s often that the scope of a project requires more than just the composites side; it requires a symbiotic relationship between multiple crafts. Before JTI ventured into composites 20+ years ago, our only bread-and-butter was in our metal working shop, which still cranks out a fair amount of pipe supports and miscellaneous steel every year. Now we serve both commercial and industrial clients in both metal and composite fabrication. Also, it’s pretty handy to be able to design and fabricate our own machinery, mandrels and any other specialty equipment that’s needed.
When you are able to do more than one thing under the same roof, you are able to increase the confidence with clients because you have a broader feel for the entire scope of a project.
Each of the seven chambers of the hanging gardens had to be able to withstand hurricane winds up to 146 mph. Can you describe what makes composites the best material for this task?
With composites, many times you’re able to create a core or sandwich material. Integrating all kinds of fabrics, hardwires and wovens that introduce unique structural capabilities. Really, the sky’s the limit. From a deflection standpoint, you can create something as rigid and as lightweight as needed–all depending on your budget. Whether it’s 140-plus mph winds, corrosion resistance or both–composites give you so many resin options and structural materials that you wouldn’t have with a metallic member. With an expensive alloy, you have to live with exactly what it is and however much it costs.
What were some challenges you faced in building the hanging gardens?
Because this project was so high-profile, everything needed to go off right the first time. It was Art Basel week at ribbon cutting and the world was watching. For JTI, there was no benchmark and no second chance. Walter [Brough, P.Eng. and project manager for JTI] headed up the hanging garden design and fabrication. Raw analytical data provided the technical foundation for tube and structural design. We ran three to four mandrels at a time to meet schedule demands. We built two more mandrels and a piece of equipment to extend each mandrel beyond 40 feet for tubes longer than 50 feet. The hardwire material was also unique to work with. It came in 12-inch-wide rolls that had to be cut and fit to the mandrel. Our chemical techs had to develop a faster resin cure time so the hardwire would stay on the mandrels as they were turned to put on another layer.